Ballarat’s marine techs bust stereotypes – and drug runners

For a long time, marine technicians, or ‘stokers’ as they are known in the Navy, have had a reputation for being tough, physical shipmates – but with the advances in technology in ships’ propulsion and power generation systems, it is a stereotype that has had to change – and ‘stokers’ on a modern warship must be as smart as they are handy.

CAPTION: Leading Seaman Daniel Jackson maintains the ship’s sea boats as part of his regular duties on board HMAS Ballarat, but has secondary duties that see him employed as a drug-buster. Photo by Leading Seaman Bradley Darvill.

Leading Seaman Daniel Jackson is a marine technician on HMAS Ballarat, currently deployed to the Middle East on Operation Manitou and a good example of the new breed of stokers.

“I maintain the operational integrity of the main propulsion drivetrain, the auxiliary power-generation plants and the engines on the ship’s three sea boats,” Leading Seaman Jackson said.

“My role calls on me to provide sound technical advice, repair plans and alternative modes of propulsion to command when faced with defective equipment.

“Being able to think on my feet and provide timely advice ensures equipment downtime is kept to a minimum and we are able to achieve our tasking effectively while deployed.”

Put simply, the ship cannot leave the harbour, let alone engage an enemy, without the stokers on Ballarat working with the rest of the ship’s company.

 

Leading Seaman Daniel Jackson has a brief cameo appearance in this video.

 

“I enjoy knowing my role contributes to ensuring the ship is ready to fight if needs be and win at sea,” he said.

Leading Seaman Jackson has a number of secondary duties on Ballarat, often just as important as his main role.

He was part of Ballarat’s boarding party that seized more than 900kg of heroin worth about $279 million during two operations in December last year.

Leading Seaman Jackson said this was a highly satisfying result following the training and hard work of the ship’s company in the lead-up to the deployment.

Leading Seaman Jackson is from Perth, Western Australia, and has been in the Navy for nine years.

He has previously served on Operation Resolute, the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the whole of government effort to protect Australia’s borders and offshore maritime interests.

He has a wife at home, who he misses greatly, but is grateful for a steady workflow and friendly shipmates to help him to stay focused.

“The most challenging aspect of life at sea would have to be dealing with being away from my family back home. Sometimes it can be lonely.

“The up side is we have good connectivity and are able to contact our families frequently and with ease.

“This helps lower the burden of being away,” he said.

“The crew is also like a big family.

“You can always count on someone to pep you up when you’re down or put a smile on your face.

“The ship hosts many events throughout the deployment which make for a fun environment to work in.”

There are currently about 200 other ADF personnel deployed on Operation Manitou.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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